8 summer silver-screen smashes to look out for

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Get ready for an action-packed summer at the movies as big franchises return to the big screen and a new “Barbie” movie to boot. Here are eight films to catch at the theatres this summer:

‘The Matchmaker’

Director: Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan

Starring: Husam Alharthy, Reem Al-Habib, Nour Alkhadra

The team at Saudi production house Telfaz11 are on a roll right now, turning out hit films and shows at an enviable rate. The latest is this psychological thriller, which releases April 27 on Netflix (part of the company’s eight-film deal with the streaming giant), and tells the story of an IT worker named Tarek (Alharthy) who becomes obsessed with the stunning new intern (played by Alkhadra) at his company. He heads to a desert resort (the film is mostly shot in AlUla) that promises its resident matchmaker will find men their perfect bride. “But when Tarek wanders outside the bounds of the resort,” the synopsis says, “he uncovers an ancient vengeance.”

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3’


Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan

The Marvel movie we’re most looking forward to this year will hit cinemas on May 4. The titular lovable rogues, led by Star Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) are getting accustomed to life on Knowhere (the severed head of an ancient celestial being that they purchased to use as their headquarters), but Quill is grieving the loss of his lover, Gamora — a situation complicated by the fact that a younger version of Gamora now exists in their timeline, but does not share her older version’s feelings about Quill. Meanwhile, Rocket the raccoon’s shady past is catching up with him, and the team must unite to save his life.

‘The Mother’


Director: Niki Caro

Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Omari Hardwick, Gael Garcia Bernal

New Zealand director Caro has the chops for both action (the 2020 live-action version of Disney’s “Mulan”) and arthouse (the award-winning 2002 movie “Whale Rider”), so we’re excited to see her take on Misha Green’s story about a highly skilled former assassin (Lopez) who is forced to come out of hiding in the wilds of Alaska and face her past in order to protect her daughter, whom she gave up years ago but has watched from afar ever since. Out May 12 on Netflix.

‘The Little Mermaid’


Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina

This intriguing live-action remake of Disney’s beloved 1989 animated classic is in good hands with Rob Marshall, who has some chops when it comes to film musicals, having helmed 2002’s “Chicago” and 2018’s “Mary Poppins Returns.” Its star, Bailey, also has form — along with her sister, her duo Chloe x Halle have earned five Grammy nominations in the last five years. The original animation has plenty of fans, both young and old, many of whom will be eager to see the new take. The story is straightforward. Princess Ariel (mermaid), falls in love with Prince Eric (human) after saving him from a shipwreck but is forbidden to leave her father’s undersea kingdom. So she strikes a deal with sea witch Ursula that grants her human legs to explore the human world. But the price for this bargain puts her father’s crown, and her own life, at risk. In cinemas May 25.

‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’


Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson

Voice cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Issa Rae

This film’s predecessor, 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” was one of the best films of that year — a tense and hilarious ride through alternate universes involving a number of different incarnations of Spider-Man, including, of course, Brooklyn teen Miles Morales. In this follow-up, Morales and his love interest Gwen Stacy (the Spider-Woman of her universe) take on The Spot — a new foe who can open interdimensional portals and who threatens the lives of all Spider-People. They team up the Spider-Society, led by Miguel O’Hara, to take The Spot on, but Miles and Miguel clash over the best way to do so. In cinemas June 1.

‘Elemental’

Director: Peter Sohn

Voice cast: Leah Lewis, Mamoudou Athie, Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi

Pixar’s latest is set in Element City, where the elements of nature (fire, water, land and air) live in their respective neighborhoods and are traditionally forbidden to mix. Ember Lumen, a feisty, quick-tempered fire element meets fun-loving water element Wade Ripple when he is called to deal with a plumbing accident at the family store owned by her bigoted father Bernie. Even though they cannot touch, Ember and Wade begin to fall in love, with Wade’s laidback nature helping to calm Ember down. In cinemas June 15.

‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’


Director: James Mangold

Starring: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas

With Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on board as executive producers, this fifth and final installment in the hugely successful franchise, set in 1969, finds an ageing Dr. Jones searching for the titular mystical and powerful object alongside his goddaughter Helena (Waller-Bridge). Jones is disappointed to discover that former Nazis are now working with the US government to take on the Soviet Union in the space race. He’s particularly concerned about the sinister Jurgen Voller (Mikkelsen). In cinemas June 29.

‘Barbie’


Director: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, Simu Liu

The fact that two great filmmakers — Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) and Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story” and “Francis Ha”) — co-wrote this film, and that Gerwig herself directed it, hopefully means that what could have been (and was surely conceived as) a cynical marketing scheme for Mattel’s iconic doll will hopefully have plenty of heart. Other reasons to be hopeful include the two leads –two of Hollywood’s brightest young stars, Robbie and Gosling, as Barbie and Ken. In cinemas July 20.